How is an Administration supposed to respond to a Humanitarian Crisis?
By: Riley Mulcahy
The images coming out of Texas in the past weeks are beyond disturbing. Due to a lack of communication between Mexico and the US, and the many disasters Haiti has dealt with in the last month, thousands of asylum refugees have been displaced and held in US detention centers. The scene is eerily similar to the handling of immigrants seeking asylum at the Southern Border during the previous administration. However, there has not been a mapped out solution to the problem that will protect, house, and feed the refugees. Instead, blame is being pointed in all directions.
To say that life in Haiti has been difficult in the past few months is most certainly an understatement. According to The Washington Post, a devastating earthquake killing more than 2,000 people and leaving many without safe drinking water, an assassinated president wreaking political chaos, and an accusation of the prime minister’s involvement in the crime leaves little to no question of the severity of the problem. But in a country that finds it hard to house the millions of homeless on American streets, how can America plan to provide refuge to thousands of people in dire need?
The question above is impossible to answer, and the lack of one definite answer makes it easy for politicians to place blame on one another. This issue is nuanced because of the thousands of lives it affects, and any discussion must recognize the gravity of the situation and the need to shelter thousands of displaced individuals. When there is a conversation about immigration in general, there is either a willful or blind criminalization of the people in question, regardless of the struggles of a refugee or an immigrant, and conservative politicians are the most aggressive in their mistreatment of immigrants. Despite the infusion of Christian doctrine they preach, and along with their desire to make sure the United States is a “Christian nation,” they refuse to follow the principles that Jesus teaches in the Bible.
It is completely possible to approach the situation of an influx of refugees with dignity and respect. Instead, images of Border Control agents whipping refugees on horses are the norm. Biden and Harris are not immune to public scrutiny. There is a valid criticism that the response in Texas by Border Control agents has been awful. After all of the Trump administration’s backlash, the use of detention centers showcases a lack of self-awareness on Biden’s part. Yes, Democrats won in 2020 narrowly. However, it is essential to note that obstructionists like Senators Siemmna and Manchin make it painfully apparent that Biden and his team can afford to make massive humanitarian mistakes such as these.
To feel outraged in this crisis is understandable; it is one of the only correct responses in this situation. Regardless of your political affiliation, one must acknowledge that crucial errors have been made, and Biden’s legacy of Trump’s mistakes is not something to be proud of. The most humanitarian response is to accept all of the refugees and support them financially. Although that is what I believe should happen, it is not possible to take on every refugee—the process of picking who stays and who goes is brutal. However, refugees living under bridges on freeways is never an acceptable solution to any problem. To remedy this awful situation, Biden must be able to prove that he is more than competent in his job. In other words, Biden was elected based on Trump’s inability to do basic functions of the job of being the president, and Biden has brought a sense of normalcy into the White House. However, to help the thousands of refugees, Biden must step up and prove that he is a more than capable leader to come up with a humane and ethical solution with the whole world watching him.
Nicki Minaj and Political Theater
Musician Nicki Minaj’s bizarre vaccine-hesitant tweet spawned a flurry of controversy, and none of the subsequent discourse seemed to lead anywhere substantive.
By Brent Dondalski
On September 13th, 2021 musician Nicki Minaj tweeted: “my cousin in Trinidad won’t get the vaccine cuz his friend got it & became impotent. His testicles became swollen. His friend was weeks away from getting married, now the girl called off the wedding. So just pray on it & make sure you’re comfortable with ur decision, not bullied” (Twitter). It was a bizarre tweet and one with vaguely political implications. It didn't take long before the tweet was picked up by popular political commentators such as Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens, and was subsequently praised for its vaccine hesitant advice. The reactions around this tweet, Nicki Minaj’s vaccine stance, and the eagerness for political influencers to comment on the controversy reveals the absurdity of contemporary political discourse.
This controversy is a perfect example of how national stories are filtered through celebrities and sensationalism. There are countless peer-reviewed studies verifying the efficacy of vaccines, the lack of adverse reactions, and the documented side effects (New England Journal of Medicine, National Library of Medicine, etc). These are studies subject to rigorous academic research conducted by experts in the field of epidemiology, biology, and so on. Yet, the Nicki Minaj tweet is what dominates cable news, Twitter feeds, and the opinions of media commentators. Social media and the current news ecosystem have facilitated this type of sensationalization where individual narratives and popular public figures become the centerpieces of stories. If the media is responsible for informing citizens then tweets shouldn’t be stories: data should be. In this scenario it would almost certainly be more important to reiterate the scientific data backing up the efficacy of the vaccine rather than reporting Nicki Minaj’s Twitter feed, which anyone can just look at themselves.
However, it comes as no surprise that far-right commentators such as Tucker Carlson would jump at this opportunity. With countless misleading claims about COVID-19, Tucker Carlson has been a significant proponent of misinformation, once telling viewers “your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from your response to seeing someone beat a kid in Walmart: call the police immediately” (Fox News). He reported on Nicki Minaj’s tweet, saying “public health officials didn’t like this because they make their living bullying people.” Candace Owens, another far-right commentator, echoed these sentiments saying “real queens do not act because of peer pressure.”
The irony of this is that these are people who have previously claimed to be against celebrities in politics, and have even criticized musicians like Nicki Minaj for their sexual provocativity and rebellion against social conservatism. Candace Owens even once said “I take issue with [Cardi B] being used to encourage young women to strip themselves of dignity,” a criticism that would undoubtedly apply to Nicki Minaj who paved the way for female musicians like Cardi B.
The reason these people are not being consistent in their beliefs is because they are playing a team sport; their business is partisanship. The moment that an extremely relevant celebrity like Nicki Minaj echoes their anti-vaccine sentiments, they jump at the opportunity to associate themselves with that person due to their clout. This level of partisanship, while unsurprising, is totally shameful and erodes any type of legitimate discussion that could have arisen from this situation, because the motives and honesty of people like Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens is immediately in question.
In addition to conservatives chiming into the swollen testicle discourse, the White House extended an invitation to Nicki Minaj to discuss questions she has about the COVID-19 vaccine (AP News). At best, this invitation may help enlighten a vaccine-hesitant individual about how the vaccine is safe and necessary to end the pandemic. However, it’s hard not to imagine that this isn’t another publicity act to capitalize on a celebrity’s relevance by entering the current trending topic. The White House does not extend these invitations to any anti-vax individual, so why should Nicki Minaj get one? What is there to gain from inviting Nicki Minaj to the White House for this discussion? How does this help the working-class people of America? The White House’s attention should be on the issues affecting the American public as a whole rather than the concerns of a singular celebrity. Nicki Minaj being a public figure shouldn’t necessitate a visit to the White House.
At the end of the day, Nicki Minaj’s story about her cousin and the vaccine should be inconsequential. After all, we don’t need anecdotal evidence when there is plenty of research on COVID-19 vaccines. However, because of a media ecosystem that prioritizes sensationalism, we have a political climate that is informed by absurd and arguably meaningless stories like this. This is politics at its most partisan; commentators and politicians jumping at the opportunity to condemn or praise a celebrity for even their most vague stance on an issue. It almost feels like each political party is making an effort to “recruit” Nicki Minaj, and other celebrities, to their side. This type of celebritization of politics is unproductive and only takes away attention from actual issues and what working-class people in America are dealing with.
The conspiracy-filled campaign of Larry Elder was defeated last Tuesday, giving Gov. Newsom a clear path to a 2022 victory.
By Riley Mulcahy
Any illusion of a GOP California was swiftly denied last Tuesday, as Governor Gavin Newsom defeated the Republican challenger, radio host Larry Elder. Elder based his campaign on “personal freedoms,” arguing that mask and vaccine mandates while Newsom ran on his record dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and referred to the recall as the “Republican Recall Effort”. As of the time of the writing of this article, Newsom beat Elder by roughly 30 percent of the vote, a victory for science and common decency.
If COVID-19 never existed, the recall simply would not have happened. Although conservatives point to wildfire safety and the homelessness in California, the primary catalyst of the recall is something out of a movie, a governor eating at a fancy restaurant (The French Laundry) during a time where he called for people to stay home. Although his timing was not the best, this is not a reason to recall a governor. Furthermore, Newsom followed the science involving vaccines, masks, and stay-at-home orders to protect the most vulnerable, which right now are the unvaccinated, and a large majority of those people supported the recall.
Although we now see that the recall efforts were a slim majority in the very liberal California, there was a real possibility of Newsom being recalled because there is a general apathy towards voting unless there is a buy-in from the voter (such as voting for the next President of the United States). The California GOP was grasping for straws to find a candidate who would be viable to replace Newsom. However, they found a Trump wannabe who questioned the validity of the election before the first ballot was cast.
According to Sonoma State professor David Mcaun, an expert in the ballot system, the cost of the recall for the state of California is around $450 million dollars, possibly $500 million dollars. Spending money frivolously is ironic for a party that prides itself on being “fiscally conserative” and supporting tax cuts. There is no accountability in the recall process, which means candidates like Larry Elder or Caitlyn Jenner are seriously considered (out of the 40 Republican candidates, Elder was by far the preferred Republican Party candidate). Elder is a fringe conservative who once equated reparations of slaves to the need for reparations of slave owners on Candance Owens’s radio show and said he would get rid of the minimum wage if elected.
The real hope is that Democratic voters turned out to support Newsom. The recall’s failure shows that most Californians are receptive to caring for one another and the environment. This joke of a recall attempt is not about Newsom or Elder. It shows the values that Californians have. Since Trump’s presidency, there is a particular fear that your neighbor might be a member of the alt-right or watch radio shows like Elder’s filled with misinformation. This fear makes people weary when a recall threatens a somewhat popular governor like Newsom.
For liberals, the victory last week shows that there is a chance that the highly competitive 2022 Senate race could be a big win for Democrats across the country. However, this should not be the overall message of the recall. Yes, Newsom’s victory shows that the majority of California believes in the values of the Democratic party; however, this was such a unique circumstance. The notion that the recall election went through should be problematic and they mustn’t get hooked on this feeling that the Senate will be easy to flip. The Republican Party has enjoyed its fifteen minutes of disruption in the Senate. Going forward, if the Democratic party does not get more progressive and put their money behind the same people, it will be a long fight in 2022.
Newsom might have a more challenging fight to stay in office in 2022 if he is primaried. However, suppose he ends up being the Democratic candidate. In that case, the recall shows that although Newsom has some flaws that conservatives love to point out, he protected Californians from a global pandemic, even creating a budget surplus in the process.
Maybe You Shouldn’t Go to Hawaii
Two SMC students from Hawaii share their perspectives on how a spike in tourism and the persistence of COVID-19 have impacted their home.
By Brent Dondalski
Right now, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging on almost entirely among the unvaccinated, according to the CDC, with 100,000+ new cases each day in the U.S. Few places have suffered as much as Hawaii, with ICU beds reaching past capacity just this month, according to the Star Advisor. With the country beginning to reopen, especially for the vaccinated, more and more people are taking advantage of this newfound freedom after a long year of social distancing and business closures.
With Hawaii being such a sought-after vacation spot, local Hawaiians are now faced with a growing tourism wave paired with the ongoing pandemic. Unfortunately, people native to the islands have to deal with the consequences of tourism and irresponsible actions that lead to the spread of COVID-19. Hawaii’s location makes it far too vulnerable to COVID-19 and other issues that local Hawaiians will ultimately feel the weight of.
These are things potential visitors and those considering Hawaii as a vacation destination should consider and reflect on. This past week I spoke with two Saint Mary’s students who are both from Hawaii. Taylor Swoish, a senior from Kailua on the island of Oahu, and Chandler Cowell, a senior from Maui on the slopes of Haleakala each shared their thoughts on Hawaii and the pandemic.
Dondalski: From your perspective, what is going on in Hawaii right now in regards to the pandemic?
Taylor Swoish: From my perspective, we just had a really high spike and COVID-19 due to the number of tourists that have come in. My mom works in the COVID-19 unit, she helps test people… I think we've had like, 1000 cases in one day, which sounds like a little bit, but just for Hawaii, it's a lot. There's a lot of people coming in and we all know [the COVID-19 spike] is because of travel because we're so isolated. That's the only way they are getting there.
Chandler Cowell: Right now, and for the past, almost two years since the global pandemic hit, it's been kind of a crazy experience, to say the least. I was fortunate that I got to go home when COVID-19 first hit and be there for two months. Basically, everything shut down. And when I mean everything, I mean every single thing: shops, restaurants, places to walk, nobody was even going to the beach.
That was crazy because the beach and ocean are such a big part of Hawaii and a part of what makes us us. And even now, although things are opening up more, there's actually still this crazy energy. It's hard to actually put into words. I know that we have an exponentially higher amount of tourists here than we have ever before.
Dondalski: A lot of local people are saying don’t come, yet there’s a lot of tourists are going anyways. Why is there this disconnect between local Hawaiians and tourists?
Swoish: I think it's because of these stereotypes that Hawaii has on the US mainland. There's a lot of preconceived notions of what Hawaii is. So I feel like in a lot of people's minds they forget that people live there all the time. And it's just a lot of what I see with kids at our school: a lot of people just have what they've seen on vacation and what they've seen on TV. So there's a disconnect of people thinking it's just an island paradise, and then forgetting that it is people's homes.
Cowell: What I've talked to many family and friends and seen on Facebook and other social media is that Hawaii is actually a very small collection of islands, and Maui is even smaller. We don't have as many people as, say, Oahu. Having more people there means less time for locals to be out and do their thing. On top of that, having the pandemic where there's a risk of exposure to COVID-19.
We understand that tourism is an essential part of the Hawaiian economy because it's been shaped that way. But at the same time, it's hard to really want to have people there when they aren't necessarily—and it's not everyone, I'm not going to generalize—but there are people who go there and don't wear their masks or they don't follow the COVID-19 safety protocols, or they create a ruckus. And on top of that, there's already a really hard understanding between locals and tourists, and the essence of when people come there, they treat Hawaii like Disneyland. They don't really understand that people have livelihoods and families and a connection to the land. Hawaii is a very collected collectivistic culture and it happens to be that sometimes when tourists come, they're just so consumed by being on vacation that they forget to realize that people live there and have lives there.
Dondalski: How have tourists coming to Hawaii personally affected you?
Swoish: I've got to see the difference between when the pandemic first happened and when no one was there, and this summer when it was just kind of insane. It's annoying because people just come and then they leave and then we have to deal with the problem. So it sucked because my friends were being safe, but because of all these people now, there are more restrictions. So when people come, we have to deal with everything else when they go. That has just been really frustrating.
Cowell: It's hard. I have to say, although it was shut down, and I know our economy took a hit, it was incredible to see the island and its natural beauty without as many people and without as many cars on the road. I was scared for COVID-19, but I was simply grateful that I got to experience the island as it should be treasured. The island had a chance to breathe.
And now, being back at St. Mary's, it's harder to go home. It's already expensive to go home as before COVID-19, but, even now the ticket numbers are extremely high. I understand that people want to go and get to take a break from this crazy history that's been happening, but they should also realize that when they take up all those flights, they are taking away from other people who want to go home and just be with their families. I'm not going there to stay at the Grand Wailea and go to the pool and all these fancy restaurants, I'm going to go hang out with my cat, to go to my favorite hikes and stuff.
Dondalski: If you could say anything to people planning on visiting Hawaii what would it be?
Swoish: Just be respectful. And think about how your actions do affect others. I keep saying about the trip that's going in for Jan Term. I keep saying it's just really big colonizer energy because it really shows people's privilege of being able to go and not really care [about their impact]. You wouldn't want someone to go into your house, or your space and spread COVID-19. Maybe don't do it to a super isolated island with only a couple hospitals.
Cowell: Think of why you want to go and think of what's the real reason you want to go there. And if you do end up going, I mean, I have no control over that. But before you go, do your research and understand what it's like to actually be in Hawaii. It's not just a place you can go visit and forget all your worries. People live there. Families live there. There's a whole culture there. There's a history there. And I'm not saying you have to know every single detail about Hawaii—if you do that'd be great—but understand what you're going into and understand that there's a way of life there that is so different from people here on the mainland. Take that step back and don't think only of yourself. Think of all the people who are there too.
Vacationing in Hawaii right now puts the state in a very vulnerable position. COVID-19 is still spreading, and ultimately local Hawaiians will have to deal with growing hospitalizations and rising cases. Traveling to and from Hawaii is already expensive, but this spike in tourism is making it even more difficult for many Hawaiian students to travel back home. People considering a visit to Hawaii should really consider whether this is the best time for a vacation there and what they can do to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The presence of internet personalities on the 2021 Met Gala guest list raises eyebrows and creates controversy surrounding the event’s prestigious history.
By Roya Amirsheybani
Similar to almost everyone’s social media feed this past week, Met Gala content overtook my Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube feed. This year’s theme was “America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” which paid homage to iconic American culture symbols and designers. While the obligatory “best and worst dressed” lists remained consistent with the event’s yearly coverage, the growing presence of social media influencers at the Met Gala has become a heavily debated topic that asks “Who really deserves an invitation?”
Like many others that eagerly tune in each year to see the unique looks my favorite celebrities choose to promenade around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I was caught off guard by the presence of influencers such as Addison Rae and Dixie D’amelio. I have always considered the Met Gala as an event carrying heavy prestige, so I found myself questioning why and how these girls became so famous for doing so little, and how their work could be grounds for receiving a ticket to one of the most exclusive events in the United States. As photos of the guests slowly made their way to the Met Gala’s official Instagram account, I could not help but notice the disparities between the social media personalities and other guests.
Among the sea of talented musicians, actors, and athletes, internet influencers seemed to stick out like a sore thumb. Compared to Billie Eilish’s Oscar De La Renta ball gown, Addison Rae’s red ensemble looked cheap and tacky, almost a dead giveaway of her questionable rise to stardom. But what is this all for?
I believe that the presence of internet celebrities at the Met Gala is a result of Anna Wintour attempting to rebrand the event to reach a younger audience. With Gen Z’s interest and access to social event coverage at an all-time high, it is obvious that the inclusion of influencers comes from the aim to gather more attention from Gen Z viewers, and it worked, in a way.
In addition to self-proclaimed fashion critics evaluating whether or not every attendee’s look fit this year’s theme, I noticed an influx of social media users commenting on the questionable roster, which seemed to increase the engagement on the official Met Gala Instagram account. However, with the heightened engagement came an absence of the elegance and tradition famously present at the event in years past, and viewers noticed. Where do we draw the line between the quality of the event’s aesthetic and the number of viewers?
While I am not in favor of TikTok influencers attending the Met Gala, I wholeheartedly believe that hardworking and talented YouTube influencers deserve an invitation. Not only have these individuals “paid their dues” on the internet, but many speak for Gen Z in a way that is more impactful than the message TikTok stars are sending. Instead of “look how far I’ve come from being conventionally attractive and moving my arms around to pop songs,” the message of many YouTubers that attended can be interpreted as “look how far I’ve come from working hard on creating quality YouTube content,” which is by far a more inspiring and credible message to send to Met Gala viewers. For example, beauty guru Nikkie de Jager, known on YouTube as NikkieTutorials, has worked hard since 2008 to build a platform of acceptance and inspiration that goes beyond beauty products. To say that her ticket to the Met Gala was undeserved is simply untrue.
Even though my chances of ever attending the Met Gala are slim, as a viewer, I feel I have an obligation to voice my opinion on who I want and do not want to see. This is my feed, after all, and I don't know if I care to see the likes of Addison Rae and Dixie D’amelio at next year’s Met Gala. Anna Wintour, please don’t fire me for this.
Letter From The (New) Editor
To our readers,
There is a palpable new energy on the SMC campus this fall. As we emerge from our Zoom classrooms into a world where we all realize the true value of human interaction, we seem to carry with us excitement that could only come from a trying 18-months. Someone mentioned to me they felt we were at the cusp of a new Renaissance bursting with student creativity and passion. I look around campus and see the full courtyard outside Cafe Louis and the halls of Dante bustling once again, and realize that the student resurgence is here, that SMC has begun a new chapter marked by the fervor of students reclaiming their campus.
The feeling of newness that accompanies the post-Zoom campus sometimes takes the form of new faces, new resources, new Cafe Louis sandwiches, and new ways of learning. It is not lost on me that the events of the past two years have also radically changed the world we live in on and off-campus. However, just as in the world outside of SMC, our long-standing traditions of community wholeness remain.
The Collegian has been an integral part of the SMC community for over 118 years, and we do not plan on going anywhere. Our mission to unite the College community through the exposure of truth and powerful storytelling remains central to our organization, and we intend to take it further than it has ever gone in the history of The Collegian.
Being Editor-in-Chief of the paper was never a role I envisioned myself in. As a writer who focuses on the artistry of the craft, print publication always seemed like an uninhabitable place for a creative. However, as a student, a feminist for the 99%, a humanist, someone who is anti-racist, pro-LGBTQ+, and believes in science, I recognize that the press is a place for voices to gather with the intention of creating a better world together. Information is the weapon of the people, and great change will happen when we commit ourselves to informing the masses. I am deeply honored to be leading The Collegian towards this goal.
Changing our world may seem like an audacious goal for a student newspaper, but it has been a reality for The Collegian before. In 2007, writers from the paper uncovered and reported on sexual assault cases that had been undisclosed and buried. The fearless reporting of these students that led up to the #MeToo movement ten years later represents the guiding principles of the paper and inspires the work of me and my fellow writers. Our reporting is done to inform other members of the SMC community, to be a voice for the voiceless, to contribute to global conversations, and to pursue the truth relentlessly. Perhaps it would be nice if we wrote fun, easy stories that you could browse through on a Sunday, but it is not our job to be agreeable.
This year’s staff is committed to bringing the truth to the SMC students, staff, and faculty in a compelling, factual, and original way. We represent the diversity of voices and perspectives at SMC, and will not forget our responsibility to the campus community. In light of this, I ask the community to show compassion to writers of The Collegian. This is a time that is very tumultuous for writers, especially considering the misinformation spread about the reliability of journalism. Already we have experienced pushback in our reporting, so please understand that our intentions are to inform and not combat.
Nonetheless, I am in awe of those I have the privilege of working with this semester, never before have I seen a group of Collegian writers so eager to create quality work. I thank our staff for their continued hard work and dedication to the paper.
On behalf of The Collegian, I would also like to thank the administrators that make our work possible. Cesar Ramos and Zach Tedrow from SIL have put countless hours into bringing The Collegian to life, which is greatly appreciated by our entire staff. I would also like to thank the Communications department for their support with print publications and finding student writers. Finally, I would like to thank the donors who have made print publication possible this year with their generosity.
Most importantly, thank you to our readers on and off-campus. Your continued support keeps the word of the students alive.
The Collegian will be back in print publication starting this fall, but will continue to primarily publish on our website. Stay safe, wear your mask (over your nose), and have a great semester.
With COVID-19 hospitalizations surging amongst unvaccinated individuals, it is more important than ever to reject Coronavirus misinformation and get vaccinated for the sake of yourself and the community around you.
By: Brent Dondalski
Right now, about 1.1% of COVID-19 hospitalizations consist of vaccinated individuals, and only .08% of COVID-19deaths were vaccinated people according to AP News. Yet, we have approximately 160,000 new cases in the U.S. now compared to the relatively modest 40,000 new cases exactly a year ago (Worldometer). The scenario is clear: the eradication of COVID-19 eradication depends on unvaccinated people more than anyone else.
If you are not vaccinated yet, I encourage you to get vaccinated. Nearly every reputable medical authority recommends the COVID-19 vaccine and emphasizes its extreme unlikelihood to harm an individual. 96% of doctors are vaccinated as of June 11th 2021 according to the American Medical Association. You are far more likely to contract COVID-19 and die than you are to have an adverse reaction to the vaccine. You are doing everybody around you an immeasurable favor by getting vaccinated.
With that said, the pandemic continues to rage on, decimating almost exclusively unvaccinated populations. There is a direct correlation between COVID-19 hospitalizations and vaccination rates within any given state, with the least vaccinated states being hit the hardest. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 vaccination has been heavily politicized. Despite overwhelming scientific consensus on the efficacy and safety of the vaccine, the trust in the shot remains partisan.
According to The New York Times, those who voted for Trump in the 2020 election are significantly less likely to have gotten vaccinations than Biden voters. This is an issue because even as unvaccinated populations are feeling the full wrath of the pandemic, they are still being discouraged from taking the vaccine by certain politicians and media figures.
Media moguls like Tucker Carlson share COVID-19 disinformation every night on television, despite the Fox News studio requiring all employees to be vaccinated. The vaccine not being FDA approved used to be a major talking point for anti-vax propagandists like Tucker Carlson, yet now the approval has come and the goalposts have shifted. Vaccine mandates are argued to be unconstitutional and a government overreach, despite George Washington having actually mandated smallpox inoculations across the military, contributing to the eradication of the disease.
Many of the anti vaccine stances are rooted in disinformation and a fundamental misunderstanding of epidemiology. People also sometimes argue that young healthy people tend to suffer less from COVID-19 than the elderly or those with health conditions, and that staying healthy is the best protection against COVID-19. Not only is this scientifically inaccurate, but this train of logic is a dead-end because elderly people or those with health conditions should absolutely not be considered more “expendable” than healthy adults.
Ultimately it is everybody’s responsibility, as human beings, to protect themselves and those around them. Not wearing a mask or not taking a vaccine is not simply a personal choice because one can carry the disease and spread it to others, who will in turn suffer because of that choice. Fortunately, the Biden administration understands this and that’s why the United States will be seeing that COVID-19 vaccines are mandated similar to other inoculations like the smallpox vaccine.
But we can only get so far. The mandates will help, but ultimately, the unvaccinated community must dwindle to as few people as possible if COVID-19 is to be eradicated. If COVID-19 continues to develop in our population, then the Delta variant will be the tip of the iceberg. More variants will develop, threatening even vaccinated people with contamination. The cruelest irony of this situation is that unvaccinated Americans are rejecting a free and easily accessible vaccine that less privileged countries would be grateful to have.
This vaccine hesitancy, which is difficult to separate from anti-mask rhetoric, is bizarre, anti-science, and quite arbitrary. People eat McDonald’s everyday, but are suddenly concerned about unknown substances in their bloodstream. Schools require smallpox vaccinations for students, but suddenly mandates are now government overreach. Surgeons wear masks all the time for procedures that last many hours, yet suddenly they are hard to breathe through.
The COVID vaccine should not be this extreme of a debate or issue, yet we have gotten to a crossroads where it might decide our civilization’s future.
Dr. Anita Sircar wrote an LA Times article detailing her experience in the ER throughout the pandemic, declaring “the burden of this pandemic now rests on the shoulders of the unvaccinated.’ On those who are eligible to get vaccinated but choose not to, a decision they defend by declaring, ‘Vaccination is a deeply personal choice.’ But perhaps never in history has anyone’s personal choice affected the world as a whole as it does right now. When hundreds and thousands of people continue to die—when the most vulnerable members of society, our children, cannot be vaccinated—the luxury of choice ceases to exist.”
The Texas Abortion Law that Undermines a Woman’s Right to Choose is an Attack of Roe V Wade.
By: Riley Mulcahy
The same state that elected Progressive Governor Ann Richards in 1991 passed an extreme and oppressive law banning abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy, which effectively bans abortions. According to The New York Times, some women do not know that they are pregnant until after the sixth-week mark.
Abortion access has been a highly debated topic for the last fifty years; however, the landmark case, Roe V. Wade, explicitly gives women the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. Republicans have called themselves “pro-life” for decades, but this is a misconstrued notion. The fact that a party that is allegedly based on “personal freedoms” would not understand that there are circumstances that make abortion the only option for women is indefensible, but not shocking. Nonetheless, it shows the hypocrisy of the argument that they make when they call themselves “pro-life.”
The most disturbing part of the bill is that there is no caveat for rape or incest and that healthcare providers and ride-share drivers are liable for aiding an abortion. Instead of focusing on the fact that rape and incest are two of the most traumatic and abusive things that a woman can endure, the lawmakers negate this and instead fight on for the “sancity of life.”
Do not let the “sanctity of life” argument fool you. For decades, there has been an infusion of warped “Christan values” infused with the Republican Party’s platform. However, their platform does not include any social programs needed to avoid abortions in the first place, instead opting to argue “personal responsibility.” It is mind-boggling and unacceptable that even when a woman is a victim of rape or incest, she will not have access to safe abortions.
In response to ride-share drivers being thrown into this mess of a bill, both Uber and Lyft have come out with statements in defense of a woman’s right to choose. Lyft has pledged a million dollars to Planned Parenthood and stated that drivers do not ask riders where they are going. Riders should never be worried that they are breaking the law by requesting a car to get access to needed healthcare, and it is not the driver’s job to judge you based on the location you are going to.
Although the conversation is centered on Texas and its atrocious law, there needs to be more considerable discussion surrounding the notion of freedom in the context of abortion. The same states that refuse to implement COVID-19 mandates based on the idea that it attacks their personal freedom are so quick to attack a woman’s right to choose. Although surprisingly, Republican Governors have just started to implement restrictive laws surrounding abortion, Roe v. Wade is still rightfully the law of the land, and the ACLU has already announced that they will see Texas in court because of the abortion law. This should go without saying, but the “personal freedom” argument about not wearing a mask should never be compared to the pain a woman must be feeling when deciding whether or not to have an abortion.
States have defunded healthcare clinics such as Planned Parenthood because they perform abortions; however, according to Planned Parenthood, only three percent of the services they provide are abortions.
When we attack reproductive freedom, we also attack access to healthcare for impoverished communities, something that is always the case when abortion is restricted. Rich politicians and their wives and/or mistresses will not have a problem finding a way to get an abortion when it is convenient to them. Still, they will be the first ones to condemn poor women for not “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps” and having the baby regardless of the circumstances of the pregnancy or the lack of access to essential services they will face due to Republicans relentless attack on a woman’s right to choose.
Saint Mary’s campus is not immune to the anti-abortion movement. At the recent involvement fair, there was a pro-life club represented. Let me make this clear: being against abortion is not the problem, and it is safe to say that people who identify as pro-choice would love to live in a world where abortion does not need to be an option. However, the disconnect between the term “pro-life” and reality is that it negates the very real situations that women face out of their control, such as rape and incest. Furthermore, a woman does not owe anyone an explanation on why she does not want to continue with a pregnancy, regardless of the opinions of anti-choice voices.
Ryan Ford '23,